Features

Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Hands On – Better than eyes can see

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Two months of collective restraint from the world’s most powerful smartphone companies have led up to this day in Barcelona. If this were Hollywood, today would be the Oscars, maybe even more exciting. Today, tightly guarded secrets finally see the light of day, leaks that couldn’t wait to be revealed are confirmed, and expectations that have kept the tech industry at a standstill are either quenched or met with utter disappointment.

In a span of just two years, Korean smartphone giant Samsung has been on the receiving end of both criticism and praise. Its 2014 smartphone the Galaxy S5, with its plasticky build and faux leather stylings was a big miss while its 2015 attempt the glass and metal Galaxy S6 was for the most part, everything its demanding user base clamoured for.

Today as they unveil their latest Pièce De Résistance or as the Spanish say the Plato Fuerte, Samsung hopes for a repeat of last year’s performance. 

I’ve seen and held the new Galaxy S7 and its curvier big brother the Galaxy S7 Edge – both are great phones, not blow your mind phones, but phones that deliver a certain level of contentment and satisfaction.

Call it managing expectations. For sure, a smartphone on the bleeding edge is what we tech journalists seek out. But at its core, if you strip away the pomp and hyperbole of a smartphone launch, see beyond the marketing speak, and allow enough time for the hype to die down, you’ll find that what everybody really wants is a smartphone they can be content with.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of those phones.

COMEBACK

Two key themes mark the design of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge (from hereon out collectively referred to as the S7 unless otherwise stated) – giving back what was surreptitiously taken away, and improving on what has already been done right.

Like the S5 of two years past, the S7 has an IP68 rating that guarantees survival under fresh or pool water up to depths of 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. The only orifices on the phone are a micro USB charging port and headphone jack, both remain exposed but protected thanks to a new cap-less design.

The hybrid SIM tray on the S7 and S7 Edge takes two nano SIM cards or one SIM and on microSD card.

The hybrid SIM tray on the S7 and S7 Edge takes two nano SIM cards or one SIM and on microSD card.

The only removable part is its SIM card tray, lined with rubber stoppers to keep water out. The hybrid tray has two slots, one for a nano SIM, and the other for a micro SD (or a second nano SIM) card of up to 200GB in case the phone’s internal storage is not enough (32GB or 64GB depending on your region). The latter should appease critics who decried the absence of the expandable memory on the S6, and gives Samsung a leg up on Apple whose never made external cards an option on the iPhone. 

One feature not making a comeback is user replaceable batteries. Instead Samsung is giving the S7 and S7 Edge batteries with larger capacities. Up to 3000 mAh on the S7 and 3600 mAh on the S7 Edge. Both phones also support fast wired and wireless charging and take 95 minutes and 115 minutes (wired) and 130 and 150 minutes (wireless) respectively to charge from 0 to 100%.

DESIGN

If you’ve seen the S6 then the S7 won’t look dramatically different. The S7 is still mostly made up of glass and metal but now has slightly more rounded corners, a slightly more squarish home button, and a display that’s even more flushed against its sides.

samsung-galaxy-s7-curves

Both the S7 and S7 Edge are curvier than last years models thanks to new 3D glass.

The biggest design change can be seen and felt once you turn the phone around. The back of the of S7 now curves outward on both ends made from what Samsung calls 3D glass. It’s a simple but practical design change that’s made the phone less boxy, more ergonomic, and one that feels thinner than it actually is.

CAMERA

Samsung also improved the highly regarded camera of the S6.

While its shaved down the unsightly camera bump, everything else is bigger and better, including a faster f/1.7 lens and larger 1.4um pixel size.

samsung-galaxy-s7-camera

On paper the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have one of the best cameras seen on a smartphone ever.

The company is touting a new feature called dual pixel technology, something seen on high end professional cameras from Canon but never on a smartphone. The promise is even better low light performance and even faster focus speeds, up to 4x faster than its predecessor in low light.

Samsung is also making a bold move this year, cutting down on megapixels from 16 on the S6 to only 12 on the S7. In lieu of more megapixels you get larger pixels, a tradeoff that theoretically should deliver better looking photos across lighting conditions.

Double pressing on the home button still launches the camera app, and launch time is as fast as ever. From within the camera app Samsung has added a new Motion Panorama mode and made improvements to its Hyperlapse feature bringing down file sizes significantly so that it can be shared easily on the web.

Similar to what Apple did with the iPhone 6S, the S7’s selfie camera gets fill flash, not an actual front facing flash, but a sudden burst of light from your smartphone display.

POWER

Depending on where you are in the world the S7 will be powered by different processors, either an octa-core processor from Samsung (Exynos 8890) or a quad-core processor from Snapdragon (Snapdragon 820), both are promised to be up to 58% faster than last year’s models.

Memory-wise, 4GB of RAM is standard across the board.

Gamers will enjoy a new feature called Game Tools that allow you to take screenshots, record game play, turn off notifications while in game, and the ability switch to a power saving mode that reduces performance but saves on battery life. The phone also supports Vulcan API so game developers can tap into even more power saving and performance driving features in tandem with the phone.

S7 EDGE

Last year Samsung introduced two innovative new smartphones with curved screens, the 5.1-inch S6 Edge and 5.7 inch S7 Edge Plus. Both models have been consolidated into one product this year the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 Edge. The change might sound confusing at first but it is a smart move that clearly defines Samsung’s top-of-the-line smartphone offerings which in 2016 are the Galaxy S7 (5.1 inches) Galaxy S7 Edge (5.5 inches) and Galaxy Note 5 (5.7 inches with a bundled stylus), none of which compete with each other in both feature set and screen size. 

Tasks Edge on the Galaxy S7 Edge allows users to set shortcuts to tasks within certain asks, soon even 3rd party ones

Tasks Edge on the Galaxy S7 Edge allows users to set shortcuts to tasks within certain asks, soon even 3rd party ones

Edge functionality on the S7 Edge has been expanded – the edge display is now two columns wide. The extra screen real estate means more space for 3rd party widgets. On top of “People Edge” (contact shortcuts) and “Apps Edge” (app shortcuts) Samsung is adding a third edge screen called “Task Edge” which allows you to create shortcuts to specific tasks within apps. For example you create a shortcut to launch the selfie camera, or compose a new SMS message. For now its Samsung apps only but the company is opening up Task Edge to third party developers so soon you should also be able to also create shortcuts for posting photos to Instagram and composing Tweets.

AVAILABILITY

It’s only been a few hours since the launch of the S7, not enough time to crown it the next best thing. In a week or so after this hype has died down, I should be able to assess how I truly feel about the device and determine whether or not it is a phone that delivers contentment. But by then the phone could already be in your hands.

In an effort to be the first flagship smartphone in stores this 2016, Samsung is pushing for an aggressive worldwide release. Both phones will be available in the United States on March 11th. The Philippine release is scheduled for March 19th, with gold and black 32GB variants of the S7 and S7 Edge retailing for Php 34990 and Php 39990 respectively.

[irp posts=”2481″ name=”Singapore is getting a taste of Samsung’s pink-gold Galaxy S7 phones”]

Features

8 things we like about the Samsung Crystal UHD TU8000

Definitely one of the best value 4K Smart TV around!

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Samsung Crystal UHD TU8000

Samsung is known for a lot of things. And in the home theater department, the South Korean giant cemented itself as one of the leading brands.

There are a lot of reasons why. But for starters, the company creates sturdy yet well-designed TVs. It never shies from packing its devices with plenty of smart features. More importantly, there’s a range of lineups that suit your taste, preference, lifestyle, and of course, budget.

Of all its lineup, Samsung’s Crystal UHD TV series is the one that’s worth checking out, if you’re in the market for an affordable Smart TV. And the Crystal UHD TU8000 variant, in my opinion, is one of the best value Smart TV you can get right now. It’s a really sweet package, and here are 8 reasons why.

Easy setup via SmartThings app

Smart TVs are supposed to be smart, and shouldn’t be a gatekeeper between the tech-savvy and everyday consumer. Samsung kept this in mind, so they optimized the TV setup. You can quickly finish it on the TV itself, or you can connect it via SmartThings app, and do everything on your smartphone!

One of the best smart TV system

Samsung’s TV that has 4K HDR, like the Crystal UHD TV series, is powered by Tizen — an open-source operating system developed by Samsung which can be seen on smartwatches, smart TVs, and appliances.

With this system, you can have quick access to popular streaming services. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play, and even Apple TV — without the need for a dedicated Apple TV box.

Operating systems are often overlooked, but it’s one part of what makes or breaks your watching experience. Samsung’s Tizen made navigation easy, smooth, and functional. It might be due for a look upgrade, but it still gets the job done. It’s perfect for nights when you don’t want to engage your brain and watch telly after a long day at work.

Detailed picture quality

Watching on any Samsung TV is a treat for your eyes, with its sharp and detailed picture quality. It uses an LCD UHD panel technology, so its strength isn’t blowing your mind (and eyes) with vivid colors and a vibrant palette.

Rather, it keeps the visuals interesting by leveling the natural colors. Moreover, you can adjust its picture modes to match your preferences and your room’s lighting condition.

4K and Upscaling

Even though we already have 8K technology, I still enjoyed the 4K HDR capabilities of Samsung’s Crystal UHD TU8000. It was cinematic, immersive, and visually astonishing.

After all, the TV automatically switches to HDR mode whenever you’re watching HDR content, and upscales non-4K videos decently. And if you’re worried about added noise after being upscaled, fret not. The upscaling technology keeps quite a good amount of detail.

Ambient Mode

Samsung Crystal UHD TU8000

The artistic Ambient Mode, which was only exclusive to the high-end QLED range, made its way to the Crystal UHD TV series — and I love it. You can choose what to do with the display when you’re not using your telly. Opt for nice scenery, place images directly from your Samsung phone’s gallery, make it look like a frame — the choice is yours.

Samsung Crystal UHD TU8000

Lastly, the TV operates on lower power mode when in Ambient mode. So it’s not just prettifying your display when not in use, it helps save energy, too.

Stylish, functional, and sturdy

The TU8000 is pretty sturdy despite using plastic on its back panel, bezels, and stand. Nonetheless, it looks stylish whether it’s mounted on a wall or on a TV stand. Its back is designed with cables in mind, allowing you to manage it in an orderly manner to keep your TV neat and clean.

While already looking stylish, the TV never forgot about functionality, too. It has three HDMI ports, two USB ports, an ethernet port, a common interface slot, and an input for composite video and radio-frequency antenna. It definitely suits whatever kind of user you are!

Remote Control

Samsung Crystal UHD TU8000

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the remote control. It’s lightweight, fits my hands with its slim and curvy figure, and easy to navigate with its buttons that are only necessary. It’s also a smart assistant and a voice remote in one, so you can use your voice to search in apps like YouTube and make it function like Bixby, Alexa, or Google Assistant.

Pricing

Samsung Crystal UHD TU8000

The Samsung Crystal UHD TU8000 sits well at an affordable price point. The 43-inch model retails for PhP 27,999 while the 50-inch model costs PhP 33,999. For those who want a larger unit, the 55-inch model retails for PhP 41,999.

Bonus: Soundbar

Frankly, the sound quality isn’t the best when it comes to Samsung’s Crystal UHD TV TU8000. It’s loud and decent, however, having an impressive picture quality should be matched with stellar audio quality.

This is why pairing it with Samsung’s TF-400 Soundbar made the audio-visual experience heavenly, especially the Surround Sound that the soundbar offers. It’s really a match made in heaven, so if you’re considering the Crystal UHD for its 4K HDR capabilities, make sure you pair it with the right soundbar.

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Features

5 timeless gifts you can give to a mom anytime of the year

Bizarre gifts on their secret wishlists

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We’ve seen it all: the kinds of gifts we need to give moms in our lives — whether they’re your mom, someone who’s a long-time mom, a friend who recently became a mom or a colleague that’s soon-to-be a mom. Every year, we get new ideas on how to celebrate them and how to make them feel special.

But this year, we’re taking it differently. We asked a few moms what’s secretly on their wish lists. And y’all, we didn’t expect these responses. Here’s a round-up of the bizarre gifts that we can gift every mom, Mother’s Day or not.

Pregnancy Pillow

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey albeit an arduous one. For Ana, 25, and a soon-to-be mom, body pain and finding comfort have been the biggest issues in her wonderful journey. While she gets excited to see her newborn, she finds it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. For her, having a pregnancy pillow would solve 99 percent of her body pain — which she experiences every day.

Buy here: Lazada

Sunset Lamp

Taking walks during sunset could be a therapeutic and beneficial exercise for soon-to-be moms. However, the pandemic imposed restrictions to keep us safe that resulted in a challenging situation where it’s difficult to cope and relax. Sunset lamps offer a good alternative; projecting aesthetically pleasing lighting similar to golden hour. All at the comforts of your own home.

Buy here: Lazada | Shopee

Self-care kit

When you’re a new mom, all your attention and resources shift to providing what your baby needs. To a point where you forget how to take care of yourself. For Lorraine, 31, and a mom to a 10-month old boy, self-care days are a must: getting a massage, going to a spa, having her hair styled, and other treatments to her skin, mind, body, and soul.

Given the dire circumstances, going out is dangerous for her and her baby, which is why she secretly wishes to be gifted by a self-care kit — a massager, hairdryer, hair straightener, and an epilator.

Epilator: Lazada | Shopee

Hair straightener: Lazada | Shopee

Massage Gun: Lazada | Shopee

Hairdryer: Lazada | Shopee

Space-saving and eco-friendly form of transportation

For Jean, 26, and a mom to a 4-year old boy, taking care of your health is more than just about the food you eat and the exercises you do. It’s also taking care of your emotional and mental health, and making a contribution to making the world a better place.

Through a foldable bike, she wishes to lessen her carbon footprint by using an eco-friendly form of transportation and save space, something that meticulous, organized homemakers want. Coincidentally, it’s also a good bonding activity with her kid. Think: mom and son biking on a Saturday afternoon.

Buy here: Lazada

A bigger TV

Having a TV is integral in keeping your family together. After all, it is a centerpiece for any home. Jenny, 48, a mom of four young adults, is always concerned about her and her children’s health. Although, secretly, she wishes to have her TV upgraded to a bigger one — at least 55- or 65-inch such as the Samsung Crystal UHD TV — to host movie nights and bond with her children, now that everyone is already having their own lives.

As a long-time mom, Jenny doesn’t like to splurge on what’s the latest gadget or appliance there is in. She wants the best value, and of course, something that lasts for a long time.

Buy here: Lazada | Shopee

SEE ALSO: 10 gift ideas for the new mom on your list | 6 best gifts women actually want

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24 Hours Series

A 24-Hour soundtrip with the Huawei FreeBuds 4i

From waking up to sleeping soundly at night

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Huawei Freebuds 4i

For about a year or so now, I’ve considered my Huawei FreeBuds Lite as my go-to wireless earphones for day-to-day activities. I mean, I could basically just tone everyone out while I proceed to go about my day — whether it’s the weekday or weekend. Plus, I mean I own a Huawei phone so I guess I’d like to keep things a bit consistent.

Until one day, I was lucky enough to test out the new Huawei FreeBuds 4i, which was something quite surprising considering I was looking for another pair anyway. So I told myself, “why not, let’s use this entire thing for a whole day and see what happens.”

Wake up in the morning, feelin’ like…

Huawei Freebuds 4i

I’m pretty sure you know what comes after, so let’s get the morning started. That particular Friday morning, I woke up at around 6:30 to 7:00 AM despite only getting 6 hours of sleep. Before starting the day, I did a bit of stretching to some music that powers me right up. So, I popped in the Huawei FreeBuds 4i and instantly, I just heard nothing but the music.

To be honest, being disturbed early in the morning isn’t fun and the FreeBuds 4i’s Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) does wonders for that. In essence, it eliminates every possible noise you can hear and just lets you enjoy your ad-free music on Spotify. Yes, even the sound of loud cars and whirring fans disappear from your ears.

After my morning routine, I grabbed myself some breakfast matched with a nice cup of coffee. Even when there’s still work to do, you can’t really skip a good breakfast! To help me get myself ready for the work day, I tuned up some podcasts about my favorite topics and issues to discuss. With the FreeBuds 4i’s ANC, it was nice to properly hear and focus on the discussion points.

Work hard, play hard

Huawei Freebuds 4i

With breakfast out of the way, I had some work to do — mostly on the creative side of things and some writing. For the most part, I just stayed in my room and opened my Macbook to get things started. Luckily, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i was compatible with my Apple device, and connects quite fast.

Part of my work includes having voice and video calls with some colleagues and friends through my Huawei phone. With the FreeBuds 4i, I had a pleasant experience with the noise cancellation technologies that my friends could hear my voice clearly. Also, I turned on Awareness mode either through the Huawei AI Life app or a long press on the right earbud. You know, just in case somebody in the family needed my help and they were calling me.

During my breaks, I find myself playing some nice, good ‘ol fashioned League of Legends: Wild Rift on my phone. I teamed up with some friends through the Discord app, and turned up the game’s volume to a tolerable amount. While using the FreeBuds 4i, I heard all the game’s sounds deeply while finding a way to make team comms be a little better.

The night is still young, and so are we

Huawei Freebuds 4i

After my eight and a half hours of work and play, it was time for a little bit of relaxation before dinner time. I usually spend this time watching some YouTube videos or a series/movie on Netflix. For this particular Friday afternoon, I watched some VODs from the VALORANT Masters regional qualifiers for that week.

Of course, I had to quickly charge the FreeBuds 4i since it was running non-stop for eight or so hours. By quickly charging it, I mean all I needed was to give it a 10-minute recharge in the case and it’s all good to go. Essentially, this set of wireless earphones gives you about 4 hours of use in just a short amount of charging time.

Within those 4 hours, I reviewed three different sets of VODs of qualifying matches while having a smooth audio experience. With a dynamic 10mm audio driver and low latency audio algorithms, I could take in all the intense action between the best teams in VALORANT plus some commentary. After watching, I put down the earphones and gave it some more time to charge while having dinner.

Sweet lullaby, I want it more everyday

Huawei Freebuds 4i

After a hearty dinner, it was finally time to get some sleep and recharge for the next day. Of course, I made it a point to watch a Netflix series and have late night calls with my girl beforehand. Then, I prepared for bed and fired up my playlist to doze off into the night.

Before I began, I popped in the FreeBuds 4i and allowed the case to just charge in the background. For the next 8-10 hours, it would be my companion through the calls and the soundtrip to sleep. Furthermore, I didn’t have to worry too much if the songs stop playing when one of the earphones falls off my ear.

With 10 hours of continuous playback and a comfortable fit in my ear, the FreeBuds 4i allowed me to just close my eyes and recharge in peace. Also, I would sometimes check the battery percentage through the Huawei AI Life app to gauge how long my soundtrip would be. By the time I woke up the next day, it would be prime and ready for another recharge like me.

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i comes in at PhP 3,599, and in three colorways: Ceramic White, Carbon Black, and Red. 


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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